Community speaks out at EMU Athletics Forum

Various topics addressed by the community surfaced in the Eastern Michigan University Athletics Forum that took place in Pray-Harrold Thursday night.

“I think people getting together and talking about this is good for everybody,” Dan Proctor, a junior on the men’s swimming team, said.

Hosted by the Eastern Echo — students, athletes, faculty, non-faculty, alumni and several journalists were in the attendance of roughly 30 people for an open discussion about their thoughts on the current state of Eagles’ athletics.

“It was a very lively, good discussion. A small, but good audience,” EMU History Professor Mark Higbee said.

Though the EMU Athletic Department was invited, no representatives attended the forum.

Football was a main topic of discussion, nearly a week removed from the end of the team’s 2-10 season.

“[There was] a lot of communication about what’s relevant and what’s not relevant and changes that maybe need to come or different actions to take with the football team,” Proctor said.

With this year being the team’s 18th in a row without a winning season, there have been calls on campus to fix such a major program.

“I really don’t think there’s a clear path and there probably won’t be a clear path for at least the near future,” Proctor said.

One of the first topics that came up and seemed to keep coming back in the hour and twenty minute-long discussion was revenue and expenses and how that affected the 21 sports teams and the EMU community as a whole.

Higbee was an individual who spoke out more than once on the matter.

“I think if students were aware how much they pay for athletic programs on this campus, they’d hit the ceiling,” Higbee said. “It’s an awful lot. It’s not affordable anymore.”

He continued on how EMU Athletics directly affects the students.

“Eighty-five percent of all the costs for athletics is paid out by students one way or another,” Higbee said.

The talk later detailed the dispensing of money between all of the NCAA sanctioned sports at Eastern Michigan.

“I’d like to see a little more reward for the success that [the men’s swim team has] had,” Proctor said. “It feels like we keep having success and maybe getting nothing and that we’re rewarding the wrong teams for losing.”

The EMU Men’s Swimming and Diving team won 11 Mid-American Conference championships from 2000 to 2011.

Echo Managing Editor Al Willman announced that this forum was the first of a series of forums, hoping to have another one sometime in late January and another in May.

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